June 8, 2016
- KidsAndCars.org and grieving parents double-down on the need for
technology to help prevent children from dying needlessly in hot cars.
As we work to raise awareness
today, an 8-month-old baby died today in Baton Rouge, LA. This is the eleventh child who
has died this year in a hot car which represents a 275% increase
compared to last year at the same time.
On average once every nine days
an innocent young child tragically dies due to heatstroke in a vehicle. As
part of National Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention and Awareness Day June
8, grieving parents sent a letter to Anthony Foxx, secretary of the Department
of Transportation (DOT), and Dr. Mark Rosekind, administrator for the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), calling for immediate
action on this pervasive problem.
The families insist on
technology to help prevent parents and caregivers from unknowingly leaving
children alone in vehicles and enduring a lifetime of pain, sorrow and grief.
This cycle continues year after year as the auto industry refuses to add
simple, existing driver-reminder technology to their vehicles, and Federal
officials are not giving serious attention to Congressional directives to
test available technologies.
The official start of summer,
June 20, hasn't even arrived yet, and already this year eleven children
have died from heatstroke inside vehicles. That's a 275% increase compared to
last year at the same time. "The worst thing any parent or caregiver can
do is think that this could never happen to them or that they are not capable
of unknowingly leaving their child behind," says Janette Fennell,
founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the leading national nonprofit
child safety organization working solely to prevent injuries and deaths of
children in and around motor vehicles.
"This can and does happen
to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents; no one is
immune," Fennell continued. Since 1990, more than 750 children have died
in these preventable tragedies. An average of 37 children die needlessly
every year from vehicular heatstroke.
The Peabody family lost their
daughter, Maya to heatstroke in October 2008. The Peabodys are a perfect
example of devoted, caring parents. They have been foster parents all the way
up to the therapeutic level, adoptive parents, advocates for the under
privileged and have raised numerous children who weren't their own. "I
never thought this could happen to my family. My husband is a loving,
responsible and doting father who goes far beyond expectations when it comes
to keeping our children safe. If this can happen to him, it can happen to
anyone. Technology is needed to make sure that no other child has to suffer
the way that our sweet Maya did. Our family will never be the same,"
said Dawn Peabody of Phoenix, AZ.
Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA
administrator also calls on Secretary Foxx to quickly initiate a rulemaking
to require a safety standard that includes technology that alerts the driver
if a child is inadvertently left behind. "Other lifesaving technologies
to save children are now standard equipment on all vehicles. Lower Anchors
and Tethers for Children (LATCH), trunk releases, rear view cameras in 2018,
and safer power window switches are great examples where a deadly problem
existed and a cost-effective solution was required by the government to make
vehicles safer for children; and these advancements have saved countless
"We encourage individuals
in all communities to take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle. Try
to find the driver of the vehicle, call 911 and if the child seems to be in
imminent danger, break the window furthest away from the child to rescue
them," stressed Amber Andreasen, director of KidsAndCars.org. The
organization offers a small tool called resqme™, an all-in-one seatbelt cutter
and window breaker that fits on your keychain. The spring-loaded device
is tapped on the corner of a car window and the glass is shattered. (http://bit.ly/15NMOWj)
KidsAndCars.org and their
safety partners will post facts and safety tips throughout the day about how
child vehicular heatstroke can be prevented. They are calling on the public
and media outlets to join in to support this national effort. Facebook,
Twitter users and others can find photos, graphics and posts to share at http://www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke-day.html.
Through the "Look Before
You Lock" educational campaign, the first of its kind, KidsAndCars.org
has already distributed more than 750,000 safety information cards to
birthing hospitals nationwide. This education campaign will continue, but at
the same time technology is needed to prevent these tragedies.
For additional information,
statistics and charts specific to child vehicular heat stroke visit http://www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke-day.html.